Bizarro doesn’t even begin to explain what we’ve seen
Both matches today managed to go to PKs. The Russia/Spain match wasn’t that exciting, but the Croatia/Denmark match did not disappoint. I can’t handle how much of a bizarro World Cup this has been.
Bizarro, I say! Igor Akinfeev’s kick save of Spain’s 5th PK to win attempt has proven to me that everything I thought I knew about the World Cup needs to be thrown out the window. Spain becomes yet another giant to fall, and the semifinal is guaranteed to house either Russia or Croatia. That’s absolutely bonkers.
Somehow Kasper Schmeichel managed to save a PK late in the second half of Extra Time, which helped send the match to PKs. Both keepers showed up, though. After both teams went 2 for 4, Nicholai Jorgensen stepped up and had his kick saved. Ivan Rakitic stepped up and ruined the Danes’ dreams, securing a semi-final match-up with Russia.
There are still some heavyweights remaining, but it certainly seems as though nobody is safe. If Mexico show up like they did against Germany and South Korea, Brazil could be in trouble. Then again, if they play like they did against Sweden that match could end 11-0 in favor of Brazil. We just don’t know. Of the countries with the best odds to win it all, only Belgium, Brazil, and France remain. And, if they win their respective matches, Brazil and Belgium will face off in the quarterfinals with a possible battle with France in the semis. That’s assuming the French can overcome Luis Suarez hitting the ground while holding his head even though he hasn’t been hit in the head. Seriously, he looked ridiculous against Portugal.
Anyway, let’s recap real quick before I go way off track. After the Spain loss, the left side of the World Cup bracket has won a combined 8 World Cup titles. The right side? 1. Who and when was that? England in 1966. Um…what? This means the rest of this tournament could be wide open. And Turf writer Ryan Matott could be correct.
Can England do it?
You know what, Matott? I’m right there with you. This is England’s best possible path to the final. They’ll need to go through some combination of Colombia, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, and Croatia to get there. And you know what? They have the talent to do it. They’ll probably lose to France in the final, but they can at least get there. Of all of the above teams, the three lions are the most well balanced, with at least one stud in each area of the pitch (attacking/midfield/defense/keeper). If their defense can hold up, watch out.
For the record, claiming England can get to the final is once again proving we’re in a bizarro timeline. And if you need any other proof…
How the mighty fall
I have to admit, it definitely crossed my mind that the Russians somehow managed to hack the brains of the Spanish players. This is the world we live in, right? <Shrug> Spain simply weren’t good enough. They struggled against Iran and Morocco in the group stage and, despite holding the majority of possession today, were atrocious against the Russians. Diego Costa was a better defender than he was attacker. Let that sink in.
Argentina may be the joke of the tournament. For starters, they shouldn’t have been here. And they somehow had better than 10-1 odds to win it all. I was crushed for Nigeria and Iceland. Both played out of their skulls, but somehow the Argentinians pulled a Portugal (see Euro 2016) and slipped into the knockout round. France was far and away the better team.
Germany was favored to repeat. They were my pick to win it all. Yet they somehow managed a measly 2 goals in 3 games. A lot of self reflection needs to happen for Joachim Low after this. Sure, his players didn’t show up for him, but HOW DID HE NOT INCLUDE LEROY SANE IN THE SQUAD!? I still need time to understand how they managed to not get out of the group stage for the first time in their history.
Not that Portugal or Argentina truly had a chance, but you have to feel for Ronaldo and Messi. They both remain goalless in the knockout stages of a World Cup. Considering they’re two of the best ever, that’s more bizarro proof. Messi will probably retire from the international game, yet Ronaldo will still try to play in Qatar in 2022. I mean…he presented himself to the world, he needs to try to finish.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the round of 16 will bring.
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